Want to succeed in long-term care this year? Don't get too comfortable

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

A new year is once again upon us. Among other things, that means you will probably be exposed to more than a few forecasts of the year-ahead-in-long-term-care variety.

Some crystal ball gazers might recommend that you affiliate more closely with local hospitals. A few may chime in that your hospice and home care connections need to be cinched up. An expert or two might insist that you focus on the one thing you're best at. Still others may say blow everything up and start over.

Who's right? I have no earthly idea.

What I do know is that predicting the future can be a tricky business. And while I can't point you toward a no-fail strategy, I can recommend that you learn from a man who's made a tidy living from seeing things first: Jim Clark.

Chances are pretty good that you may not be familiar with Clark. But it's a safe bet that he has helped change the way you live at home and on the job.

Clark is what might loosely be called an entrepreneur. He was the driving force behind three multibillion-dollar firms in Silicon Valley: Silicon Graphics, Netscape — which launched the information age — and Healtheon (the last of which was eventually merged with WebMD).

Clark has always had a knack for seeing what's coming before others do, especially when there's a profit motive involved. But here's the rub: At heart, he's really an anarchist. By his own admission, he doesn't do well when it comes to hanging around the firms he helps create.

In his book, “The new new thing,” author Michael Lewis well describes what a complete pain Clark could be. Clark regularly berated his first CEO, and routinely kept others in the dark.

Lewis also does a nice job of profiling the type of person who helps unlock the future:

“The person who makes his living searching for the new new thing … needs to keep groping. He chooses to live perpetually with that sweet tingling discomfort of not quite knowing what it is he wants to say. It's one of the little ironies of economic progress that, while it often results in greater levels of comfort, it depends on people who prefer not to get too comfortable.”

Keep groping and don't get too comfortable. That's not exactly the kind of recommendation that one usually finds in a greeting card.

But if you are trying to make the most out of the year ahead, you could follow far worse advice.

John O'Connor is Editorial Director at McKnight's.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.